The postmaster

Despite about 191 billion messages sent each day, 95% being spammy, I consider email being an incredible failure, the biggest one being it’s the most used way to communicate on the Web.

Email is insecure per se, unless you rely on multiple third party technologies. Email is unreliable in a business, built to last context since data preservation depends on the last sender being in the company. And no one knows how to properly reply to an email.

In other word, I hate email, and the six years I spent working for an enterprise social software company did not fix what I thought about it. I hate email, but the worst is group emails and that bloody reply all button.

When I gave my elder son the keys to his email account, I told him 2 things.

The first one was about filters.

Avoid subscribing to stupid services, but if you do so, always add +the-service between your first name and the @. You don’t understand why yet, but you’ll thank me when you discover Mail filters.

The second one was even more important.

Never ever put more than 1 person in the To: field. And avoid using CC: as much as you can.

A few years ago, one of my kids teacher who obviously lacked email mastery sent a message to all the class family, writing the email addresses in the TO: field. As this message was informative only, she did not expect half a dozen people to click reply all and send « OK thank you » to 25 persons. Neither did she expect an unhappy family to start bitching about the school and the teacher.

Most parents being happy with the school, the teacher had lots of supportive messages, still using reply all and the whole story should have stopped there.

Unfortunately, it didn’t.

The teacher sent an email to all the class explaining that the school had issues with then, this leading to both families (the fathers are 2 brothers) to withdraw all their kids. No bitching there, but a huge mistake: clicking once more on the reply all and sending the message to the complainers.

Things quickly got ouf to control.

Rumors started to spread that the teacher was not really good and the kids ended their year without the basic knowledge, or that she used to hit the kids. Indeed it was false but the principal had to throw himself in the battle to stop the dogfight.

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